Changing face of Leeds, a city with big digital ambitions

Andy Burton.
Andy Burton.
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The Digital City team asked Sky Bet’s Andy Burton how Leeds’s digital landscape has changed since the company relocated here in 2010.

He said: In addition to jobs growth and acceleration in tech salaries, with TechNation 2016 reporting that Leeds digital salaries had the highest growth in the UK at 29 per cent, we’ve seen a major shift as digital native or pure online companies become the new norm.

“Leeds-based businesses that were stepping into the unknown around the turn of the millenium, such asFreeserve, Ananova and Planet Online, have made way formore mature digital businesses, populated with highly skilled digital native people – people who have only ever worked in online businesses.

“Sky Bet is now one of two UK unicorns(companies valued at $1bn or over) in Yorkshire, alongside Pace in Saltaire, and we have two firms with a valuation of over $500m – CallCredit in Leeds and EMIS Group in Yeadon.

“These are headlines that demonstrate the strength of our digital eco-system, giving us traction on an international scale among investors, analysts and those looking to develop a tech career.

“Big brands making their home here are also playing a significant role in supporting the mechanisms that fuel incubation, with Sky Bet itself forming partnerships not only with councils and development initiatives, but by providing a fertile environment for start ups to thrive.

“Some of our alumni have gone on to create their own successful tech businesses which are contributing significantly to the local economy, in addition to the economic and tax contributions we make in our own right.

“Last year we contributed £143m to the digital economy and paid enough in tax to fund the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for a year.

“Looking ahead, it would be fantastic to see thesesecond-generation businesses continue to scale up here and spawn their own startups.”

The YEP recently launched a new Digital City platform in partnership with Sky Betting & Gaming.

The platform is designed to highlight the giant strides being made by a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds

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